Preview: Challenge Cup, Round 4

Date published: December 18 2015

Five games take place in the Challenge Cup on Saturday before Newcastle Falcons host Connacht in Sunday's lone fixture of the round.

Sale Sharks v Castres

Sale boss Steve Diamond has named his side to take on Castres at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday in Round Four of the Challenge Cup.

There are five changes to the team which won at Stade Pierre-Antoine, as Johnny Leota, Vadim Cobilas, Viliami Fihaki, Tommy Taylor and Tom Brady return to the side, with Danny Cipriani and Peter Stringer taking places up on the bench.

"It's exciting times but we need to win at the weekend. If we don't, the result at Castres means nothing," said Diamond ahead of the match.

"Without a doubt it's a turning point for the club's season because we've lost and drawn three very close games and through pure determination we've won that game which was against a much sterner opposition we've faced over the last few weeks. Make no doubt about it, Castres are a very good side."

Speaking of Castres, they have brought in Geoffrey Palis, David Smith and Remi Lamerat to their backline at full-back, right wing and inside centre respectively as they look to bounce back from last week's loss.

Ibrahim Diarra replaces Yannick Caballero on the flank while Karena Wihongi and Antoine Tichit come in as fresh legs as props.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Charlie Ingall, 10 Joe Ford, 9 James Mitchell, 8 Vili Fihaki, 7 David Seymour, 6 Mark Easter, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Jon Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 James Flynn, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Michael Haley.

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 David Smith, 13 Florian Vialelle, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Julien Dumora, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Alexandre Bias, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Victor Moreaux, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Antoine Tichit.
Replacements: 16 Julien Beziat, 17 Saimone Taumoepeau, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Benjamin Desroche, 20 Alex Tulou, 21 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 22 Thomas Combezou, 23 Julien Seron.

Date: Saturday, December 19
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)

Brive v Enisei-STM

Brive have made eight changes to their starting XV after last weekend’s shock loss to Russian outfit Enisei-STM.

Atila Septar moves to the right wing as Anderson Neisen comes in at full-back, with Arnaud Mignardi at outside centre. Mathieu Ugalde and Jean-Baptiste Pejoine take over from Romain Sola and Nicolas Bézy at half-back.

Sisi Koyamaibole returns at number eight with Kevin Buys and Thomas Acquier coming in as two changes in the front-row from last week.

Meanwhile, Enisei-STM have shuffled their backline a Denis Simplikevich and David Kacharava swap positions to outside centre and left wing, while Robert Malneek and Igor Kurashov are now at full-back and right wing respectively.

Andrey Temnov and Vitalii Orlov come in as two changes in the back-row, however the second-row and front-row are unchanged.

The teams:

Brive: 15 Romain Sola, 14 Alfifeleti Mafi, 13 Atila Septar, 12 Thomas Laranjeira, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Matthieu Ugalde, 9 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Hugues Briatte, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Victor Lebas, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Thomas Acquier, 1 Damien Lavergne.
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Ribes, 17 Goderzi Shvelidze, 18 Damien Jourdain, 19 Peet Marais, 20 Fabien Sanconnie, 21 William Whetton, 22 Nicolas Bézy, 23 Arnaud Mignardi.

Enisei-STM: 15 Robert Malneek, 14 Igor Kurashov, 13 Denis Simplikevich, 12 Mikhail Babaev, 11 David Kacharava, 10 Iurii Kushnarev, 9 Jurijs Baranovs, 8 Anton Rudoi, 7 Vitalii Orlov, 6 Andrey Temnov, 5 Viacheslav Krasylnyk, 4 Uldis Saulite, 3 Innokentiy Zykov, 2 Nazir Gasanov, 1 Alexey Volkov.
Replacements: 16 Stanislav Selskii, 17 Andrei Polivalov, 18 Evgenii Pronenko, 19 Mikhail Sidorov, 20 Plavel Butenko, 21 Alexey Shcherban, 22 Dmitriy Simonov, 23 Ramil Gaisin.

Date: Saturday, December 19
Venue: Stade Amédée-Domenech
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Richard Kerr (Ireland)

Harlequins v Calvisano

Harlequins will be looking for another bonus-point win over Calvisano when they host the Italian side at the Stoop on Saturday.

There are seven changes to the starting team as second-row Charlie Matthews makes his 100th appearance for the club while Jamie Roberts, who joined this week, makes his debut.

Owen Evans makes his starting debut, partnering Rob Buchanan and Kyle Sinckler in the front-row.

George Merrick is named in the second-row, with Dave Ward returning to openside flanker.

In the backs Tito Tebaldi also makes his starting debut as Marland Yarde returns to the wing.

Among the replacements, second year Academy member Seb Adeniran-Olule will look to make his first European appearance for the club.

For Calvisano, they sit bottom of Pool 3 after three successive losses and are expected to lose heavily against the English outfit.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Tim Swiel, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 James Chisholm, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Archie White, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Seb Adeniran-Olule, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Harry Sloan, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Matt Hopper, 23 Charlie Walker.

Calvisano: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Giacomo De Santis, 13 Pablo Canavosio, 12 Alberto Chiesa, 11 Marco Susio, 10 Florin Vlaicu, 9 Riccardo Raffaele, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Alessio Zdrilich, 6 Nicola Belardo, 5 Davide Zanetti, 4 Michele Andreotti, 3 Rudy Biancotti, 2 Lorenzo Giovanchelli, 1 Sami Panico.
Replacements: 16 Gabriele Morelli, 17 Elia Violi, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Luca Beccaris, 20 Matteo Archetti, 21 Maxime Mbanda, 22 Filippo Buscema, 23 Daniele Di Giulio.

Date: Saturday, December 19
Venue: The Stoop
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant Referees: Nicolas Datas (France), Bruno Gabaldon (France)

Zebre v La Rochelle

Zebre have made eight changes to their starting XV after last week’s defeat away to La Rochelle.

Four of those come across the backline with the selections of Dion Berryman, Tommaso Boni, Gonzalo Garcia and Leonardo Sarto from 14 to 11.

Jacapo Sarto comes in at blindside flanker while George Biagi is an addition at lock. Finally, Tomasso D’Apice and Andrea Lovotti are new faces in the Italian outfit’s front-row.

Meanwhile, there are also eight changes for La Rochelle.

Benjamin Lapeyre switches to the left wing with Kini Murimurivalu coming in at full-back, as Gabriel Lacroix and Pierre Aguillon start at right wing and outside centre.

Charles Bouldoire and Ricky Januarie are the new half-backs as Romain Sazy starts at blindside flanker.

Former All Blacks lock Jason Eaton comes in for Damien Lagrange while France prop Uini Atonio is replaced by Gagi Bazadze, with Vincent Pelo at loosehead prop.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Paul Derbyshire, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 George Biagi, 4 Marco Bortolami, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Giulio Bisegni, 23 Carlo Canna.

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Gabriel Lacroix, 13 Pierre Aguillon, 12 Malietoa Hingano, 11 Benjamin Lapeyre, 10 Charles Bouldoire, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Leo Cedaro, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Gagi Bazadze, 2 Maxime Gau, 1 Vincent Pelo.
Replacements: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Thomas Synaeghel, 18 Lekso Kaulashvili, 19 Damien Lagrange, 20 Kevin Gourdon, 21 Jules Lebail, 22 Elliot Roudil, 23 Kamilieni Raivono.

Date: Saturday, December 19
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Cammy Rudkin (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)

Pau v Dragons

All Black centre Conrad Smith is set to make his Pau debut off the bench when they host the Dragons in the Challenge Cup this Saturday.

Former international team-mate Colin Slade starts at fly-half as they look to bounce back from a 22-0 loss at Rodney Parade in Round 3.

It is a much-changed side from last week as Damien Traille, Sireli Bobo, Jale Vatubua, Mosese Ratuvou and Thierry Lacrampe come into the backline while Paddy Butler, Josefa Ulago Domolailai, Julien Pierre, Daniel Ramsay, Sylvain Charlet and Jérémy Hurou are called in on the flanks, at lock and as props respectively.

Meanwhile, Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones has made seven changes to his team.

There is one change made to the back three, after an injury to wing Tom Prydie sees him sit out of this match. Nick Scott takes his place and joins fellow wing Ashton Hewitt and full-back Carl Meyer.

The centre pairing once again remains untouched as Adam Hughes and Adam Warren retain their places. Scrum-half Sarel Pretorius is given the nod again and is joined in the half-backs by experienced fly-half Jason Tovey. 

The front-row sees two changes made to last weekends line-up with Phil Price being joined by fellow prop Lloyd Fairbrother. They are also joined by hooker Elliot Dee. The second-row has one change made to it with Cory Hill joining Rynard Landman. The back-row sees number eight Taulupe Faletau joined by flankers Nick Crosswell and Nic Cudd. 

The replacements bench has six changes made to it as Rhys Buckley, Brok Harris, Matthew Screech, Ollie Griffiths, Charlie Davies and Dorian Jones join Shaun Knight and Ross Wardle.

The teams:

Pau: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Sireli Bobo, 13 Julien Fumat, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Mosese Ratuvou, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Brice Monzeglio, 7 Paddy Butler, 6 Josefa Ulago Domolailai, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Daniel Ramsay, 3 Sylvain Charlet, 2 Mehdi Boundjema, 1 Jérémy Hurou.
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, 17 Julien Jacquot, 18 Euan Murray, 19 James Coughlan, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Thibault Daubagna, 22 Conrad Smith, 23 Watisoni Votu.

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Nick Scott, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ollie Griffiths, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Ross Wardle.

Date: Saturday, December 19
Venue: Stade de Hameau
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

Newcastle v Connacht

Newcastle Falcons have announced an experienced team for their Challenge Cup round four match against Connacht on Sunday, making a total of six changes to the starting XV from last Friday in Galway.

With the qualification spots in the pool finely balanced after an unexpected win for Enisei STM over Brive last Saturday, Dean Richards’ side boasts over 1199 club appearances in league and cups, as they look to swing momentum back in their favour.

The changes are split equally between the pack and the backline, with Marcus Watson moving up from his replacement spot last weekend to the left wing, Alex Tait taking over the right wing berth from Dan Marshall and Belisario Agulla taking the outside centre shirt from Juan Pablo Socino.

Remaining unchanged from the Round 3 match, Simon Hammersley again takes the full-back jersey, while inside centre Chris Harris will look to link with Craig Willis who makes a second European start at fly-half and will form a half-back pairing with Tongan international scrum-half Sonatane Takulua.

In the pack, Alex Rogers and Scott Lawson retain their positions in the front-row as Scottish international tighthead Jon Welsh comes in for Tongan international Taione Vea, who moves onto the bench.

In the second-row, Mouritz Botha moves from the five shirt into the four with one of the stars of the season to date, Sean Robinson returning to partner the former England international in the engine room.

Completing the line-up, captain Will Welch and Daniel Temm provide a pair of dynamic threats on the blindside and openside flank respectively, as Ally Hogg retains the number eight shirt.

Meanwhile, Connacht head coach Pat Lam has named 22 players, including the nine fit and available backs, for Sunday's Challenge Cup clash.

There are seven personnel and four positional changes from the starting side that defeated the Premiership club seven days ago.

22-year-old fly-half Shane O'Leary will get his first start in a Connacht shirt this weekend while Caolin Blade is retained at scrum-half.

Craig Ronaldson returns to the backline to join Peter Robb in another new mid field partnership while Rory Parata shifts out to the right wing. Last week's try scorer Danie Poolman becomes the fifth player to wear the number 15 shirt this season, moving from his more regular position on the wing.

Up front, 19-year-old Academy prop Conan O'Donnell has been handed his first senior start, having made seven appearances from the bench this season. The Sligo man is joined in the front-row by Rodney Ah You and hooker Jason Harris-Wright who makes his 50th Connacht appearance.

Danny Qualter will also start for the first time this season and is joined in the second-row by Galway man Andrew Browne on his return from injury.

Eoghan Masterson is another welcome returnee and starts in a back-row with Sean O'Brien and the experienced George Naoupu who will captain the side on Sunday.

The teams:

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Belisario Agulla, 12 Chris Harris, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Daniel Temm, 6 Will Welch (c), 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alex Rogers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Rob Vickers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Calum Green, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Michael Young, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Juan Pablo Socino.

Connacht: 15 Danie Poolman, 14 Rory Parata, 13 Peter Robb, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Niyi Adeolokun, 10 Shane O'Leary, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 George Naoupu 7 Eoghan Masterson, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Danny Qualter, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Conan O'Donnell.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Saba Meunargia, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 David Heffernan, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Jack Carty.

Date: Sunday, December 20
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Greg Morgan (Wales)